CinemaCon 2014: Press Release Roundup

By | April 4, 2014 2:07 pm PDT

PLEASE NOTE: If we missed any individual press release it was not done purposefully. If you would like us to include a CinemaCon related press announcement in a future roundup, please forward it to tips@celluloidjunkie.com.

Historically companies and organizations doing business at trade shows and conferences have relied heavily upon press releases to get their message out to an industry. This has been especially true at CinemaCon and ShoWest before it. This year was no different.

The first day of the show always sees a flurry of announcements “hit the wire”. As the week (and convention) progresses the number of releases tends to dwindle. We thought it might be useful to sum up all of the announcements made at this year’s show, and when appropriate, provide a bit of insight or analysis. Here are the releases published during CinemaCon 2014 listed in alphabetical order by company name:


Arts Alliance Media
The London based digital cinema integrator and software developer is is always good for a few releases during industry trade shows. CinemaCon saw them release no fewer than four. The first announced the launch of a new software solution called AdFuser. The software was designed for all aspects of on-screen cinema advertising. The software is capable of planning campaigns and managing inventory, targeting ads to appropriate genres or audience demographics, automated ad playlist creation, ad content delivery, reporting and much more. AdFuser can be used in either an extremely granular or completely automated fashion.

Our Take: AAM’s cinema advertising software has been in development for years so it is interesting to see them finally launch the product. We have yet to have a close demonstration of the solution, but look forward to seeing it in action. The company is entering a niche market with a stiff competitor (Unique Digital) that has more than a decade head start in the space.

AAM announced a software deal with Vox Cinemas, a cinema chain based in the Middle East. The circuit will be employing AAM’s suite of software to manage their digital cinema technology and operations. This includes solutions such as Screenwriter Plus (Theatre Management System), Producer (Enterprise Circuit Management System) and Locksmith (Enterprise KDM Management) and Lifeguard (NOC Tools). Vox operates 9 complexes which account for 92 screens in Lebanon and the UAE.

Finnkino was already using AAM’s theatre management system (TMS) and will now upgrade to Screenwriter Plus, which has additional features for automation and monitoring. The circuit will rollout the new version of Screenwriter Plus throughout their 14 sites and at a later date has the option to include their 11 Forum Cinemas located in the Baltic.

AAM began as a digital cinema integrator with their own virtual print fees (VPFs) in Europe. They have now entered the complicated Latin American market with a series of partners, most recently Quanta-DGT. The trio announced three deals for VPF rollouts with three exhibitors in Uruguay; Grupo Cine, Life Cinemas and Movie.

Our Take: This agreement is a perfect example of just how complex Latin America can be for the motion picture business. While the combined 61 screens covered in the contract already have digital cinema equipment installed, these screens will now fall under AAM/Quanta-DGT’s VPF agreements.


Barco
CinemaBarcoThe Belgian based projector manufacturer was incredibly active during this year’s CinemaCon, showing up at the conference with half a dozen press releases. Many of the notices centered around their new CinemaBarco initiative, specifically the 60,000-lumen laser projector the company is bringing to market. The projector is DCI-compliant and capable of showing 4K content all the way up to 60 frames per second. The Barco 6P laser projector is capable of showing 3D content in 4K at 14 ftL and is fully integrated within the DCI-compliant projector. It will be commercially available immediately in the United States and China before being distributed in the rest of the world by the end of 2014. The company demonstrated the projector at CinemaCon without a “shaking” screen.

To prove just how market ready their laser projector is, Barco announced that Cinemark would be the first exhibitor to install the new technology. The release didn’t specify precisely which sites Barco would be installing its high-tech projector in, though don’t be surprised if Cinemark Century 16 South Point and XD winds up being the first. That’s the Las Vegas cinema in which Barco was conducting off-site demonstrations of its laser projector during CinemaCon.

Following close behind the notice about Cinemark, were two additional releases promoting additional rollouts of Barco’s 6P laser illuminated projector. Santikos will be installing one of the projectors in their 19-screen flagship Palladium cinema in San Antonio, Texas. In China, Barco will be installing their new projector in three of the countries prominent circuits; Henan Oscar (425 screens at 81 cinemas), JinYi (1,100 screens at 180 sites) and Sichuan Pacific (546 screens at 92 sites).

Our Take: Manufacturers such as Barco know that developing a commercially viable laser projector was only half the battle. The harder part will likely be getting exhibitors to pay for a more expensive piece of equipment than one with a traditional bulb light source. Rather than retrofit existing projectors, exhibitors might only upgrade the projectors servicing their largest screens or those showing 3D content. Otherwise they will wait until they are refreshing or replacing obsolete or outdated equipment.

Another piece to the company’s CinemaBarco puzzle is Alchemy. The Barco Integrated Cinema Media Processor combines both a server and integrated media block into a single board, all inside one of the company’s Series 2 projectors. The company announced that the new product had passed its DCI-compliance testing.

One of the integral pieces to CinemaBarco is Auro 11.1, the immersive audio solution Barco has been offering for the past couple of years. There are currently 150 screens around the world that are equipped with Auro, a number that will balloon to 450 by the end of 2014. The company used CinemaCon as a platform to announce additional screen commitments as well as a slate of 50 movies that will be mixed in Auro. In addition, Barco reiterated their stance on coming up with a industry-wide “open format” for immersive cinema audio.

Our Take: Barco is able to maintain the number of titles being mixed in Auro, though the growth of Dolby Atmos has been fast and steady. Overcoming the Dolby marketing machine is not exactly easy. In addition, the Barco is in the midst of transitioning Auro from being channel based to a more modern object-based offering.


Christie
Christie Vive AudioOne of the sponsors of CinemaCon’s international day and opening night ceremonies, the projector and cinema equipment manufacturer had one significant announcement during the show about their relatively new audio product line. As the company describes it, “Christie Vive Audio features efficient ribbon driver technology and a unique parabolic line array design in a single compact cabinet to deliver exceptionally even coverage throughout the auditorium.” The release made clear how Grupo Cinemex, the sixth largest exhibitor in the world with 2,338 screens, will be installing Vive in their CinemeXtremo auditoriums which feature Dolby Atmos. CinemeXtremo is the large format auditorium Cinemex has developed which include giant screens, digital projection and plush seating.

Our Take: If you understand what Christie means when they say their Vive solution includes “industry-first line array designs for ceiling surrounds, wall surrounds and screen channel speakers, integrated with unique subwoofers, and powered by Class D amplifiers” then this press release is for you.


Cinema Equipment and Supplies (CE+S)
The U.S. based cinema equipment dealer and integrator launched Cielo during this year’s CinemaCon. The software application allows users to remotely monitor and manage complexes through their smart phones. The press release boasted that “The patent-pending Cielo application allows users to connect from any internet connected device to view critical information needed to ensure movie theater equipment uptime. With a very intuitive and user-friendly interface design, Cielo organizes important data such as lamp hours, feature format, and equipment serial numbers for quick and easy accessibility.” Of course, Cielo also features a notification system which alerts cinema personnel to problems as they occur.


D-Box
The motion seat company continues to increase the number of cinemas deploying their technology as was evidenced by their announcement at CinemaCon that Cinemark International would install D-Box Motion Systems on 24 screens in Brazil during the next 18 months. D-Box is already engaged in a deal with Cinemark for other screens in Latin America.

Our Take: We’re always hoping we’ll get to make some obvious joke about D-Box hitting a few bumps in the road (get it?), but exhibitors continue to be pleased with D-Box both as a technology and a company.


Dolby
What’s great about industry trade shows like CinemaCon is that they serve as a vehicle for companies such as Dolby to provide us with loads of metrics related to their ongoing business. For instance, Dolby told us that they have reached the 100-title milestone for Atmos, their immersive audio technology. This is thanks to 11 new titles being mixed in the format.

Cinemaxx, a new Indonesian exhibition chain, will be installing Dolby Atmos on 100 of its screens over the next three years. The circuit has committed to installing Dolby’s immersive audio on at last 30 screens by May of 2015. That will bring the number of installed and committed Atmos screens to 600.

Then there are all those manufacturers working to integrate Atmos into their product lines, including Christie, CineCert, Doremi Labs, Rohde & Schwarz DVS, GDC Technology, and Qube Cinema.


Doremi
The digital cinema and broadcast technology manufacturer let everyone know their d-cinema servers and integrated media block now support Dolby Atmos, the object-based immersive audio format.

Our Take: Doremi’s integration of Dolby Atmos was in the works long before Dolby acquired them last February. Still, given news of the acquisition, it only makes sense that Doremi would incorporate Atmos into its own products.


GDC Technology
If there was a competition tallying the number of published press releases during any given conference then GDC Technology would be a perennial winner. The Hong Kong based digital cinema solutions vendor put out seven announcements during CinemaCon detailing various business activities and product promotions.

The first release came the opening day of the show and is one of GDC’s customary announcements about the technology and products they will be demonstrating in their booth during the conference. This year, the company was showing off the SX-3000 IMB, which handles high frame rate (HFR) in both 2D and 3D and has several storage configurations, a scalable content storage device known as the CLA-1000 Content Library Adapter, and the TMS-1000, the company’s theatre management system. Presently more than 12,000 screens in 1,700 complexes are using GDC’s TMS to manage and monitor their digital cinema operations.

One exhibitor that will be using GDC’s equipment is the aforementioned Cinemaxx, the new Indonesian exhibition chain. The circuit has selected GDC and Barco as their digital cinema technology suppliers. Cinemaxx plans on having 300 high-end screens by the end of 2014 and hopes to expand to 1,000 screens within the next five years.

GDC also acts as a VPF administrator in numerous countries, a business which helps the company ensure a market for their technology. They have conducted several VPF rollouts in Asia, North America and have now successfully ventured into Latin America, as GDC reported by announcing several deals.

GDC will be converting both Cinestar Multicines and UVK Multicines in Peru to digital cinema. CE+S will provide assistance as the system integrator, rolling out GDC’s technology on 54 screens in 13 theatres at Cinestar Multicines’ and on 37 screens in 13 theatres for UVK Multicines.

In Chile, GDC will be converting 157 screens in 23 theatres for CineHoyts under the company’s VPF agreements. In another VPF deal, GDC has teamed with Barco to install digital cinema equipment on National Amusements’ 240 screens in 26 sites throughout Brazil and Argentina. Xenon Servicios and Kelonik do Brasil will assist with logistics on the latter rollout.

Meanwhile, GDC has completed the digital cinema conversion of Caribbean Cinemas under its VPF agreement. The rollout covered 148 screens in 20 cinemas throughout Antigua, Aruba, the Domonican Republic, St. Lucia and Trinidad.

Our Take: In case GDC was being too subtle, the company is laser focused on its efforts in Latin America. What’s more, they are quickly signing up exhibitors just as AAM/Quanta-DGT seems to be getting started in earnest.


MasterImage 3D
The 3D cinema systems company is partnering with Cinemaxx, Indonesia’s largest exhibitor which is building 1,000 screens in 150 locations over the next five years. The circuit will be employing MastImage 3D solutions throughout it’s chain, with the first systems being installed in June of 2014.


MovieTickets.com
The web ticketing company reported that their sales of cinema tickets for the year thus far are up 63.5%, year-over-year. In February alone, sales were up 95% year-over-year. North American box office is up 8% this year which MovieTickets credits to hits such as “The Lego Movie” and “Ride Along”.


NEC
Not to be outdone by its DLP competitors, Barco and Christie, NEC announced that it too would be marketing a digital cinema projector that uses a laser light source. The company is differentiating the NC1100L by gearing it toward theatre owners with small screens or art houses. The projector is DCI-compliant and can project onto screens that max out at 36 feet (11 meters).

Our Take: Like Barco and Christie, NEC is claiming they have the the world’s first DCI-compliant projector with laser light source built in. We’re not sure which company or projector came first, or if they all crossed the finish line at the same time, however NEC is differentiating themselves with their product offering by focusing on smaller screens.


QSC Audio Products
The professional audio system manufacturer announced the launch of the DPA-Q Network Amplifier Series. The new offering is an amplifier that can connect to a computer network, possibly the same one hosting a digital cinema installation, via Gigabit Ethernet. It is designed to work with Q-Sys, which QSC introduced in 2007, making audio routing and power management easier and more practical.

Our Take: QSC continues to lead the market with innovative offerings. The concept of a network amplifier is a concept which has long been in the offing. Not only have exhibitors been asking for such a solution, but given the state of current audio technology, it just makes sense. Now theatre owners won’t be forced to run cumbersome audio cables from the booth to their amplifiers, opting for less expensive Ethernet connections instead.


Qube Cinema
The subsidiary of of India-based Real Image Media Technologies, Qube Cinema has been a fixture at cinema trade shows for as long as anyone can remember. At this year’s CinemaCon the company published a press release about Qubecast, a server designed to distribute digital cinema packages (DCPs) via satellite and broadband networks. The product employes Qualcomm RaptorQ Forward Error Correction (FEC) to guarantee secure and proper delivery of content.


RealD
As we noted the week before CinemaCon, the 3D technology provider did indeed go public with their announcement of a deal with Wanda Cinema Line Corporation to install 780 RealD 3D Cinema Systems. Wanda is China and Asia’s largest movie theatre chain with 1247 screens in 142 sites. The installations will be completed over the next three years and when complete will bring the total number of Wanda’s RealD screens to 1,500. The agreement also names RealD as Wanda’s exclusive 3D technology provider.

Our Take: RealD continues to dominate the 3D space and their offerings have proven especially popular in China. The latter is noteworthy since the company faces a number of knock off competitors in the region. However, it’s not surprising that Wanda would opt for RealD in China since their North American circuit, AMC Entertainment, also employs the technology.


Sony
David McIntoshThe international electronics corporation has been undergoing a global downsizing across all its divisions over the past several months. Sony’s North American digital cinema operations were hit particularly hard with redundancies just before CinemaCon. During the conference the company announced the appointment of David McIntosh as Vice President, Sony Digital Cinema 4K Solutions for Europe and the Americas.

McIntosh previously headed up Sony’s Digital Cinema group in Europe, overseeing all aspects of the companies business in the region, including sales, business development, customer support and marketing. He will now help manage Sony’s ongoing relations with some of the world’s largest exhibitors, such as AMC Entertainment and Regal Entertainment.

Our Take: With the digital cinema rollout in North America just about over and without a true foothold in Latin America, Sony’s digital cinema operations in these regions are in maintenance mode. Thus, the company is focusing its efforts on Europe and have moved leadership to the territory. It’s always nice to have an installation metric and Sony provided one by stating they now have more than 17,000 4K systems in theatres around the world.


Texas Instruments
The manufacturer reported that more than 100,000 movie theatre screens worldwide have projectors installed that rely on DLP Cinema, the chip that acts as each projector’s imaging device. Texas Instruments provides the chips for three OEM customers; Barco, Christie and NEC. One of the remarkable figures in the press release was that there were 21,927 new DLP projectors making their way into cinemas from March 1, 2013 to March 1, 2014. Asia Pacific was the leading market for DLP over the last year, installing 8,780 units. The number of Imax screens using DLP Cinema now stands at 692 globally.

Our Take: Like Sony TI is in a bit of a maintenance mode since their OEMs will be selling fewer projectors over the next few years.


Unique Digital
Based in Ireland and Norway, Unique Digital is best known for its cinema advertising management software. They are also the integrator that helped roll out digital cinema in Norway, allowing them to develop a full suit of industry software solutions. Most recently Unique has been working on a broadband content distribution product called MovieTransit for which the company had a couple of announcements during CinemaCon.

Odeon & UCI Cinemas will be deploying MovieTransit throughout its complexes in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The system is already deployed in all the cinemas in Denmark and Norway. In conjunction with the Odeon agreement, Unique announced a deal with BT to roll out a high bandwidth, low latency broadband content delivery network. The company plans on using the network to deliver advertising, alternative content and motion pictures.

Our Take: The distribution of content via broadband networks will continue to grow as network infrastructures and bandwidth increases around the world. Presently, Unique has been able to capitalize on the robust networks already in place in Scandinavia and appears poised to develop a similar backbone in the UK thanks to their deal with BT. The company faces competition from Deluxe’s European operations and possibly the DCDC satellite initiative. Another hurdle will be territories which lack the network infrastructure and high speeds required for such content delivery, a problem that will decrease over time.

Unique also made public that Digital Cinema Media (DCM), its longtime customer that controls 80% of the UK cinema advertising market, is deploying DCM Cinematic. The software solution was specifically developed by Unique for DCM’s independent cinema clients and allows for the automation of scheduling and distribution of preshow content.

[Full Disclosure: I have previously worked with Unique Digital as a consultant.]

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